Lescott’s (all but) Gone: Let’s Celebrate.

Unfortunately, I was unable to share their elation.

Unfortunately, I was unable to entirely share their elation.

Today has been a mixed day in a couple of ways for me. I woke up to the fantastic news that England have regained the Ashes from Australia after a superb performance in the fifth and final Ashes test match. Very few things in sport feel quite as good as beating the Aussies at cricket so I should have been elated all day… but I wasn’t. That’s because a split second before finding out that we’d won I found out that Everton had lost to Burnley and so remain pointless after two games of the Premier League season.

Today is also the day that seems to have finally sealed Joleon Lescott’s transfer away from Everton, and that’s disappointing too. Numerous times on this site I’ve expressed my admiration for Lescott and I hoped he’d turn down City’s advances. Still though, in a way I’m actually also delighted that the saga is over – it’s clearly had a disruptive influence on Everton’s start to the season and should allow Moyes to add crucial additions to his squad before the transfer window closes.

Once more then, I’m trying to see the positives, as I did after last weeks annihilation at the hands of Arsenal. I spent many years watching Everton turn in dour performances and fight of relegation while I was growing up as a season ticket holder at Goodison, but in recent years the progression under David Moyes has made life altogether more pleasant. Every defeat brings back that sinking feeling though and condemns me to a week of having misery bubbling beneath the surface.

I don’t want to go back to getting used to that feeling of defeat, and I’m confident I won’t have to. Disappointing as it is to lose a player of Joleon Lescott’s quality, I’m confident that it is best for the club in both the short and long term. Lescott’s poor attitude has certainly impacted on player performances since the start of the season, and so to have him gone will be a relief to Moyes, while the funds from his transfer can aid the club’s long term progression.

There will be those that will suggest that to blame the club’s poor start to the season on Lescott is simply an attempt to shift the blame, and to an extent, they’re right. No matter what is going on behind the scenes Everton have performed poorly against Arsenal and Burnley and that should not be the case – the players on the pitch are professionals and should be focused enough to get the job done whatever is happening behind the scenes.

However, to expect players not to be affected by going on around them at all is to expect too much of them, in essence it would be to expect them to be inhuman. We all, no matter how hard we try, are affected by our surroundings and when we are unsettled in one area of our life we will see it impact on the other aspects too. Losing a member of your family is the most traumatic thing we can experience and no one would expect someone who has sustained such a loss to be able to carry on as if nothing had happened.

A football team is a similar environment. They work together day in day out and must form a close personal bond. They train together, shower together, go on frequent trips around the country (and abroad) together when they often leave their families and so a squad will quickly develop a family atmosphere. Knowing that one member of that family will naturally upset the morale and atmosphere of the whole and so it’s no surprise that transfer rumours do affect performances.

Given that Everton’s squad is famed for its strong spirit, those rifts are bound to resonate more heavily too. What’s more, Lescott’s desire to leave Everton for Man City will upset the current players who believe in the club and who have ambition of their own. They will feel every bit the equal of Lescott in terms of ability and so his desire to join ‘ambitious’ Man City isn’t going to go down well when Everton – who are just as ambitious and just lack funding – is a good enough club for them.

Take Tim Cahill for example. He is one of the most highly rated midfielders in the Premier League and in terms of value to the Everton team is probably worth twice as much as Lescott. Yet he is content with his contract with Everton because he believes in the club’s vision and ambition, he believes in David Moyes and he believes in his team mates. For Lescott, who used to feel the same, to then imply by his desire to join Man City that Everton are no longer good enough for him, will inevitably create difficulties.

So in the short term, I’m delighted to see the back of Lescott. He’s given great service to the club but his attitude and handling of his desire to leave have been less than professional, which is a shame because he will doubtless now be remembered with little fondness by fans who once adored him. Of course the club’s poor form can’t be blamed entirely on the transfer saga, and I’m in no way implying that, but I do feel that Lescott’s departure will settle the squad down and allow the players to focus on making their on pitch performances right.

In the long term too, Lescott’s transfer has opened the way for a successful future for Everton. As I discussed the other day Moyes needs to add to his squad in a few key areas and there are players available to him – or so it seems. He does have time against him with the transfer window only open for about a week longer, but some financial reward from Lescott’s transfer should allow him to bring in the players that he has been trying to add all Summer long.

Naturally every Everton fan would have liked to have been able to keep Lescott and add new faces, and doubtless Moyes wanted that too – hence his resistance to part with Lescott – but sometimes you do have to take one step backwards to make some forward progress. Hopefully Moyes can now secure some signings that will ultimately leave us in a stringer position than last season and help us push on once more, from a fifth place Premier League finish.

So it’s not all doom and gloom. Everton got off to a shit start to the season after a summer of turmoil last season too, and still defied the odds to finish fifth. This season will be just as tough, especially with Man City and especially Spurs looking really good, but I think that with the ongoing storm cloud of the Lescott saga now finally clearing, Moyes’ men should be able to get back on track.

That may not necessarily loom well for Wigan though – after facing Man United off the back of their defeat to Burnley, Wigan will come up against an Everton side fresh from defeat to the same opposition and equally determined to get their season underway with the Lescott issue finally sorted. Of course, we can take nothing for granted in football but I really think that Everton will get three points on the board at Goodison next week.

I fucking hope so anyway, because then I may finally be able to really enjoy the Ashes victory that should be filling me with joy and pride at this very moment. Still, a massive well done to Andrew Strauss and the boys, another classic Ashes series is over and the little urn is back with us, all I can say now is: bring on the next one!

Have your say:

Do you think Everton can recover from their poor start with Lescott gone? Will he be a success at City? And are you chuffed at the Ashes victory? If you want to have your say, please do leave a comment!

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